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More details emerge on Zuma's 'Garden of Eden'

Endangered plants and fully grown trees costing an estimated R16 million were flown into Nkandla.

President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal. Picture: City Press.

DURBAN - Court papers have revealed more details of rare plants costing millions of rands at President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla home.

Endangered plants and fully grown trees were flown into the rural homestead in KwaZulu-Natal costing an estimated R16 million.

The Public Works Department's papers form part of the R155 million lawsuit by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) against Zuma's architect Minenhle Makhanya.

Makhanya is accused of engineering a virtual Garden of Eden.

This includes fully grown trees costing R7,000 and endangered cycads replete with tracking chips worth over R5,000 each.

The department's documents list landscaping upgrades and rehabilitation at the entire presidential estate.

The SIU's report was submitted to Parliament last week with questions also being raised as to whether the security upgrades at the president's private home are adequate despite the huge price tag.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has called on the president to pay back a portion of the money spent on the upgrades at Nkandla.

In her report released in March, she said Zuma and his family improperly benefited from the R246 million upgrades, which included a cattle enclosure and amphitheatre, and that he should pay back some of the costs of the unnecessary renovations.

Madonsela's report also implicated Makhanya, saying he received R16,5 million from the controversial project.

'STATE AND OFFICIALS FLOUTED RULES'

The SIU said last week that the cost of upgrading Zuma's residence would never have spiralled beyond R200 million if state officials had not flouted rules and procedures.

The report argued rules and procedures weren't followed because officials were confident their actions would not only not be challenged but would be supported and endorsed.

In the report, the president denies putting undue pressure on officials or influencing the choice of contractors.

The report has already been given to Parliament's ad-hoc committee on Nkandla, which is due to sit next week.

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